This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.
I’ll always be grateful to my ex-husband for one thing; when I wanted to leave him, and take our son, he let us go. Peacefully. Despite being furious about it.
That shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is.
Women and violence: the hidden numbers. Post continues below.
In Australia, anyone can leave a relationship – they are free to go. That’s the theory.
In reality, the most dangerous time for a woman is when she leaves. That’s a domestic violence fact, evident in the sad news headlines every week.
Sometimes, a man won’t show any violent tendencies until his partner leaves, or tries to. Which is why sometimes, the woman wouldn’t see the physical violence coming.
It could have turned out so differently for me.
When I left my husband 10 years ago, I did feel nervous. I made a plan for myself and my toddler - secured accommodation, organised my sisters to help me pack the few things we were taking – and then told my husband we were leaving on Monday.
Our marriage had become a nightmare after our son was born. I’d been a dedicated step parent for a decade, and when I had my baby, I thought I’d receive the same support from the family I’d loved and given to. Then I realised, after many conversations which escalated to abusive arguments, that I was never going to get my husband to see the issues.
“I just want you to be the one to wake up at 5am, just once,” I begged when my son was six months old.
“I just want to see that you respect what I do and that you’re part of this. I didn’t expect to raise this baby as a married single parent.”
“You’re pathetic. You have no idea how hard I work, I deserve the respect for that.”
And so I became the ‘nagging wife’, desperate for his involvement and engagement.
The last six months of our marriage was ugly, and I knew it was no environment for our son. We tried marriage counselling, and the counsellor said, “I rarely say this to couples, but you’re so far apart in your perspectives and vision for the future, I can’t see how this will work to either of your satisfaction.”